Vouchers Assure Stability for Homeless Families

Family Options Study Examines Impacts
Costs of Approaches

Vouchers Assure Stability for Homeless FamiliesAn interim report on research done for U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by Abt Associates finds that permanent housing subsidies improve housing stability, along with several other positive effects for homeless families.

The interim report is part of the Family Options Study, a randomized control study that examines the impacts and costs of three approaches to addressing homelessness:

  • Permanent housing subsidies, usually provided through the Housing Choice Voucher program;
  • Community-based rapid re-housing, which limited assistance to 18 months of temporary rental assistance paired with some services; and
  • Project-based transitional housing, which included up to 24 months of temporary housing paired with services.

Outcomes for families for each of these three interventions were compared to outcomes for families who did not receive assistance.

Permanent housing subsidies:

  • Had substantive positive effects for families, reducing the proportion of families returning to homelessness or doubling up during the six months prior to the follow-up survey by 28 percentage points, compared to families that did not receive immediate assistance,
  • Decreased the prevalence of food insecurity, adult psychological distress, and alcohol and drug abuse, and
  • Improved school stability by reducing the number of schools attended and school absences.

Families offered project-based transitional housing were also less likely to experience housing instability. But families receiving community-based rapid re-housing were just as likely to return to homelessness during the six months prior to the follow-up survey as families that did not receive immediate assistance.

Families that received rapid re-housing had improved food security, but the evidence on child well-being was not clear. Community-based rapid re-housing was the least expensive intervention, costing an average of $878 per month.

Click here for the study.